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ERIC Number: EJ993242
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Aug
Pages: 4
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 35
ISSN: ISSN-0096-3445
You Owe It to Yourself: Boosting Retirement Saving with a Responsibility-Based Appeal
Bryan, Christopher J.; Hershfield, Hal E.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, v141 n3 p429-432 Aug 2012
Americans are not saving enough for retirement. Previous research suggests that this is due, in part, to people's tendency to think of the future self as more like another person than like the present self, making saving feel like giving money away rather than like investing in oneself. Using objective employer saving data, a field experiment capitalized on this phenomenon to increase saving. It compared the effectiveness of a novel message--one appealing to people's sense of "social" responsibility to their future selves--with a more traditional appeal to people's sense of rational self-interest. The social-responsibility-to-the-future-self message resulted in larger increases in saving than the self-interest message, but only to the extent that people felt a strong "social" connection to their future selves. These results broaden our understanding of the psychology of moral responsibility and refine our understanding of the role of future-self continuity in fostering intertemporal patience. They further demonstrate how understanding conceptions of the self over time can suggest solutions to important and challenging policy problems. (Contains 5 footnotes.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California